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The Value of Being Told No

Image of young girl standing against brick wall looking unhappy. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, The Value of Being Told No

Judy was hired to fill in for a teacher who was on maternity leave. At the end of the school year, she was told there was a chance the new mother may not return when her maternity leave ended. As the summer progressed, Judy had not heard from the school, and was becoming anxious about being rehired. She had heard that the teacher would not be returning, so she decided to call the principal.

No, there will not be a position for you next year,” was the reply.

Judy was devastated. She had spent 4 years preparing to be a teacher and had no idea what to do next. She never considered any other career options.

Judy believed since childhood that “no” was a negative word. She worked hard to do everything right, and to only ask for things that she believed she would receive so that she would not have to experience the terrible feelings that came from being told “no”. At the time, she could not see any value in being told “no” and had no idea that this experience could turn out to bring something good into her life.

1. Being told “no” teaches you to deal with “no:”

It sounds simple and obvious. Yet, it is surprising how many people cannot deal with “no”. Being told “no” is a normal part of life, even if we never get accustomed to it. It helps children and adults build resiliency. Learning to deal effectively with people saying, “No,” is critical to success in relationships, work and play.

2. Being told “no” can be a great motivator:

Yes, it feels like defeat but it does not have to be. It can be the beginning of finding the motivation to prove to yourself that you can find the “Yes.”

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” John Wooden, the basketball coach who led the UCLA Bruins to 10 Championships in 12 years, used that principle as a guide. The Bruins did not win 12 championships in a row and they did not let defeat, a form of “no”, stop them from winning in the future.

3. Being told “no” can create energy for change:

Does being told “no” make you angry? Good, that can work in your favor once you're aware of how that can happen.

Often, depression is caused when we feel ashamed because we are angry. We were taught that it was wrong to be angry because you did not get what you want. Of course you are angry. There was something you wanted and now you will not have it.

Instead of letting the anger turn to resentment and depression, use the energy to

propel you to where you want to be.

4. Being told “no” gives you the opportunity to ask, “Why?”:

“Why” is one of the most important words in any language. It helps us gain perspective and information. The information you gather shows you how to learn and grow. When we have the answer to the question, it can lead to finding new options and direction. At times, it will lead to the understanding that “yes” is not the best option for you at this time.

Just because we decide to do something does not mean it is the best direction for us. When we receive “no” as an answer, we are forced to take another look at what is going on. We may decide that our original goal is the right one and we need to find a different avenue through which to accomplish it. It might lead us to the realization that we need to look for a new goal.

Looking back at Judy, it took her several months to process the disappointment of not being rehired. What she finally learned, was that she was living her mother’s dream not her own. She looked for other opportunities and found that she could apply her skills as a teacher: working as a trainer in the corporate world. She enjoyed teaching adults. Without being told “no,” it may have taken her years to find the direction the best suited her.

No one likes to be told “no”; it is a painful experience and we usually avoid situations that we believe will lead to “no”. When we do that we are limiting ourselves. It denies us the possibility of gaining growth and development and the possibility of a happier, better outcome.

Call me and I can help you find a way to turn "no" into a positive word, (919)881-2001.


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